GDS Architects are pleased to announce that it’s 450 meter tall Tower, Infinity observation tower designed by Architect Charles Wee, has received Permit approval for construction near Incheon International Airport just outside of Seoul, Korea. GDS in collaboration with Samoo Architects, A&U and structural Engineer King-Le Chang were awarded first prize in a National Design Competition sponsored by Korea Land Housing (LH) to provide Design and Engineering services for the 450 meter tall Observation Tower poised to become Korea’s National Landmark back in April 2011. In addition, GDS Architects won the original International Idea Competition out of 146 entries from 46 countries in December of 2008.
From day one it was our sincere desire to “rethink” the concept of what an Observation Tower meant and rather than rely on the typical elevated platform on a stick resembling a lollipop, we wanted to create something magical that could meld the ambitions of a progressive country like Korea and its technological prowess
Charles Wee, AIA, GDS Design Principal says, “Instead of symbolizing prominence as another of the world’s tallest and best towers, our solution aims to provide the World’s first invisible tower, showcasing innovative Korean technology while encouraging a more global narrative in the process. We are elated that the many years of design, testing and coordination have led us to that all important step of beginning the building process. We look forward to providing Korea and the World with a completely new model of what it means to be an observation tower.”
Tower Infinity: Not seeing is believing (Charles Wee, Design Principal)
Positioned as the New Gateway landmark in the dynamic global economy of Northeast Asia, Tower Infinity in the Cheongna area of Incheon, Korea represents the new “Soul” of Korea by celebrating the global community rather than focusing inward on itself. The design inspiration was based on an introspection of the Korean nation, its people, where we have been and most significantly where we see ourselves headed as a proud nation and how we are perceived in the realm of this global community. In this sense, the competition evolved as an opportunity to provide a social commentary and challenge the status quo of all which is finite.
We are pleased that Tower Infinity will boast the third highest observation deck in the world and will become the world’s first “invisible tower” through the use of a sophisticated LED facade system with optical HD cameras.
Too often in modern times, the phrase “Landmark Tower” is indicative of a nation’s desire/ego to showcase a level of economic prosperity and technological achievement for others to envy. Rather than fall victim with trying to compete with the great iconographic landmarks of the world or develop another version of the “tallest observation tower”, our heart, minds and motivation were set to represent the Power of Absence and the Strength of “Nothingness” often referred to by Louis Kahn. In this respect, Tower Infinity is paradoxically strengthened in its absence, in this void we find the presence of hope for humanity as it struggles with confidence and humility. One can only hope that the result is an emotional/spiritual journey that transcends the typical temporal experience which is often so soon forgotten.
With the rapid industrialization of post-war Korea and current designation as the 12th largest economy in the world, Korea continues to struggle with its strong connection to the past and its aspirations for its future. While to many the excitement of a tower disappearing showcasing Korean technology may seem striking and unusual, a greater emphasis should be placed on the true message and contribution to humanity through the lens of understanding the nature of the infinite and the possibility of the unknown. Here lies an opportunity to showcase to the world the most important aspect of our ideals as a nation and a people, in that constant search for the unknown, the unseen.
It is my sincere hope that this project will symbolically represent the “collective soul” of the Korean people while providing a meaningful challenge and legacy to the next generation as each individual searches for a life rich in meaning and is not blinded by what they think they see.
Elevator with a View: A global search engine (Michael Collins-Director)
Tower Infinity’s significant message is the Absence of Matter is the Presence of Hope. This allowed us to reconsider how one could program, design and lend an identity to a true cultural hub that fosters an educationally rewarding and challenging experience for the youth of Korea and the world. The design sets out to go beyond what is Cheongna or Korean, and embrace the identity and culture of all global neighbors as if they sat at their host’s table sharing a momentary anecdote with each other. This idea of embracing others to help shed light on understanding ourselves was a driving force behind user experiences found in Views of the World and Childrens’ UN.
Our shared belief in Society’s obligation for educating and mentoring our youth and steadfast determination to shy away from the typical theme park ride clichés led us to create more stimulating and rewarding user experience venues. This can be seen in the Views of the World, where users enter the elevator and upon ascent to the observation level, begin a user experience where all walls transform into actual views at their corresponding heights from significant observation towers/buildings around the world. In this short time of an elevator ride a child could experience the breathtaking views of the Giza desert atop the Great Pyramids, or the Champs Elysees as seen from the Eiffel Tower or Shanghai from the Pearl Tower, all from one location. This simulated experience is not intended to replace the actual experience, but inspire people to travel to these worldly destinations and discover an interest in cultures other than their own.
In Children’s UN we set out to create a program and formal venue where children poised for future leadership could travel to semi-annual conferences to discuss with fellow colleagues the issues affecting them in their homeland and thus open up a dialogue (free of politics) that encourages other races and nationalities to understand what faces the youth of the world, fostering their Global Awakening.
Structural Concept: Rather than attempt to hide the structure behind an elaborate facade system, the design team focused on creating a simple, yet elegant structural system that is sincere to the tower’s massing in its triangular nature and pure in its response. BIM Parametric modeling was utilized to derive the optimal balance of providing necessary program area at key points. The building’s overall massing aesthetic while providing structural regularity and construction ease. The result is a structural system divided into 28 meter modules of horizontal and vertical triangles that connect the horizontal member in a manner similar to double Helix. These steel mega-braces serve as the tower’s primary structure. Attached to the mega-brace is a system of primary diagrids that span this 28 meter vertical distance between horizontal structural members and these are further subdivided into equal diamond shapes creating an additional layer of diagrid mullions that will comprise the facade system. The end result is a continuing series of diminishing diamond shapes from very large to very small. In order to counteract the effects of wind load on the tower, the designers worked with Structural Engineer King-Le Chang and RWDI to incorporate a tuned mass damper at +411 meters.
Facade Concept: The Primary Concept of the Tower to render itself “INVISIBLE” is the result of a sophisticated skin system utilizing LED Bars and a series of 18 weatherproof cameras that are strategically integrated within the diagrid mullion system. The design team analyzed countless iterations of pitch resolutions in connection with appropriate viewing distances at pedestrian levels to determine a cost effective solution that allows the tower to visually disappear when daylight conditions permit. This same technology also allows the Tower to become a 450 meter tall Billboard screen and urban focal point for all arriving at Incheon.
The LED Facade system will be callibrated to allow the building to appear “invisible” from certain pedestrian and distant vantage points while remaining visible to birds and planes through various design mitigating elements. The Tower poses absolutely no risk to planes with its use of flashing red lights and the fact that all planes will approach the nearby Incheon airport through standard approach corridors. It is a common understanding that “typical” glass buildings pose a major threat to birds and the tower’s facade patterning actually is more favorable towards warning birds and the potential to incorporate subsonic, low frequency detering sounds to ward off incoming birds, this is the same technology currently employed by many airports on their runways.
+453m Top Of Structure +418m Rescue Platform +411m TMD +397m Outdoor Viewing Roof Deck +390m Mechanical Level +369m Upper Observation Level +363m Lower Observation Level +356m Fine Dining Restaurant +349m Club Infinity +345m Fire Refuge Level +341m Mechanical Level +334m Central Kitchen +320m Sky-Bar +285-320m Sky-Walk Ramp-Outdoor Garden +285m Sky Garden Main Level +278m VIP Lounge +271m Restaurant +264m Cafe/Gift Shop +257m Main Observation Level +237m 4D Theater +233m Fire Refuge Level +229m Mechanical Level +12m U-City Office +5m Lobby/Ticketing -1m Parking -5.5m Parking -11.5m Mechanical Level.
Design Team GDS
Charles Wee-Design Principal, Michael Collins-Director, Scott Callihan, Seonghee Kim, Brandon Sakuma, Humberto Barraza,Peter Lee GDS Korea: Jae Young Jang, Yong Won Sohn and Min Wook Kang, Eun Hae Park,Goon Bo Hyun,Soobok Park, Sang Joon Park, Juneui Yu Structural Engineer: King-Le Chang of KLC Taiwan Wind:. RWDI